Science Daily: Moths Wired Two Ways to Take Advantage of Floral Potluck


A moth can take advantage of a buffet of blossoms because of two olfactory “channels” for processing smells, one attuned to instinctive favorites and the other able to remember alternate sources of nectar.
Photo Credit: Charles Hedgcock, RBP/ U of Arizona

Moths are able to enjoy a pollinator's buffet of flowers — in spite of being among the insect world's picky eaters — because of two distinct "channels" in their brains, scientists at the University of Washington and University of Arizona have discovered.


One olfactory channel governs innate preferences of the palm-sized hawk moths that were studied — insects capable of traveling miles in a single night in search of favored blossoms. The other allows them to learn about alternate sources of nectar when their first choices are not available. 

 

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